Healthy Lunch Menu Ideas with a free download!

Last week I gave you a list of Healthy Breakfast Menu Ideas

So, next up……Healthy Lunch Menu Ideas! 

Even though we homeschool, most of these lunch ideas are portable and perfect for kids to take to school…..or adults to take to work. (We take lunches to our homeschool group on Tuesdays.  My hubby takes these lunches to work.)

Before I start talking lunch, let me make one thing clear.  I RARELY make lunch. 

I make breakfast.  I make dinner.  I don’t make lunch. 

When it is lunchtime, I zone out.  The kids are given free reign in the kitchen. 

But, of course, there are rules:

1.  They can choose what they want to eat from the list, but it must be approved by mom.   (Some days I am not going to allow them to make something complicated when we have a busy afternoon.)   

2.  The older boys have to make food for their little brother.  Both brothers tell my little guy what they are eating.  He chooses what he wants to eat that they are already making.  They need to make his lunch before they can eat their own lunch.

3.  They have to clean up the entire mess before they can take one bite of food.  (If they decide to get out the griddle, they can plan on cleaning the griddle before they eat.)

4.  Their entire lunch has to be prepared before they eat…..protein, complex carbs, and a drink….everything ready before they eat.   

5.  They can’t eat until everyone is at the table.  Once everyone is ready, I come to the table and read to them while they eat their lunch.  (I am usually eating my lunch while they are preparing their lunch so that I can read to them.) 

 

 lunch idea photo

 Here is your free copy of my Healthy Lunch Menu Ideas.  I printed it and hung it on my fridge.  The kids use it as reference when they are choosing their lunch.  My kids can make most of the stuff on this list.  I have prepped some of the ingredients ahead of time.  We usually have shredded chicken, brown rice, and ground turkey that I have prepared over the weekend.  It helps them have a greater variety for lunch, but less cooking for me during the week.  There are a few items on this list that they can’t make such as the homemade mac and cheese.  The meals they can’t make rarely happen.  But, sometimes I feel energetic, so I left them on the list.   

 Here is an online list…with links to applicable recipes.   Honestly, though, most of the ideas for lunch do not have a recipe.  We just throw the ingredients together….then we taste…then we dump in a little more….and repeat the process until it tastes good! 

 

Lunch Ideas

 Peanut Butter  Cold Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich or Wrap on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
Flutterbutter Sandwich or Wrap (peanut butter, honey, and cream cheese) on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich or Wrap on ww bread or tortilla  (P and CC)
Peanut Butter and Granola Sandwich or Wrap on ww bread or tortilla  (P and CC)
Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwich or Wrap on ww bread or tortilla (peanut butter, apple, and cream cheese)  (P and CC)
Peanut Butter or Flutterbutter on a bagel, banana bread, waffle, crepe, or muffin  (P and CC)
   Turkey  Cold Turkey Salad Sandwich or Wrap on ww bread or tortilla (turkey,  equal parts of mayo and sour cream/Greek yogurt, apples, celery, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder) (P and CC)
Turkey Salad served with whole wheat crackers for scooping (or whole wheat pita chips) (P and CC)
Turkey Sandwich or Wrap (turkey, veggies, cheese, and mayo/ranch) on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
Turkey and Cheese Crackers (turkey, cheese, and whole wheat crackers)   (P and CC)
Lettuce or Spinach Salad with turkey, turkey bacon, cheese, and dressing (P and CC)
 Warm Turkey and Cheese Wrap-warm in microwave on a ww tortilla (P and CC)
Grilled Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches on ww bread (P and CC)
Turkey and Cheese Quesadilla (made on griddle or quesadilla maker) on a ww tortilla (P and CC)
Ground turkey (cooked with olive oil and Italian seasoning) served over brown rice  (P and CC)
Turkey kielbasa and whole wheat mac and cheese (P and CC)
Turkey and Cheese on ww wheat crackers-warm in microwave to melt the cheese (P and CC)
Baked Potato topped with turkey, turkey bacon, cheese, and sour cream or Greek yogurt (P and CC)
 Beans Cold Bean dip (refried beans and/or black beans and taco sauce and/or salsa-eat with ww pita chips or corn tortilla chips) (P and CC)
Warm Bean and Cheese Burrito (refried beans, black beans, corn, rice, onions, cheese, and salsa) on a ww tortilla (P and CC)
Nachos with Refried Beans and Cheese (P and CC)
  Chicken  Cold Chicken Sandwich or Wrap (chicken, veggies, cheese, and mayo/ranch) on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
Chicken Salad Sandwich or Wrap on ww bread or tortilla (chicken,  equal parts of mayo and sour cream/Greek yogurt, apples, celery, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder) (P and CC)
Chicken Salad served with whole wheat crackers for scooping (P and CC)
Lettuce or Spinach Salad with chicken, turkey bacon, cheese, and dressing (P and CC)
Monterey Chicken Sandwich or Wrap (chicken, black beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa) on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
 Warm Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla- on griddle or quesadilla maker on ww tortilla (P and CC)
BBQ Chicken Sandwich or Wrap (shredded chicken and bbq sauce) on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
Baked Potato topped with chicken, turkey bacon, cheese, and sour cream/Greek yogurt (P and CC)
 Tuna Cold Tuna Salad Sandwich or Wrap (tuna,  equal parts of mayo and sour cream/Greek yogurt, apples, celery, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder) on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
Tuna Salad served with whole wheat crackers for scooping (P and CC)
Warm Tuna Melt Sandwich or Wrap on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
 Dairy  Cold Smoothies (see breakfast ideas) (P and CC)
Yogurt Parfaits (see breakfast ideas) (P and CC)
Cottage Cheese with Fruit and Nuts  (P and CC)
 Eggs  Cold Egg Salad Sandwich or Wrap  (P and CC) on ww bread or tortilla
Egg Salad served with whole wheat crackers for scooping (P and CC)
Boiled Egg  (P)
 Warm Fried Egg Sandwich on ww bread or bagel (P and CC)
Breakfast Burrito in ww tortilla (P and CC)
Egg McMuffin on ww English Muffin (P and CC)
  Other Cold BLT Sandwich or Wrap (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo) on ww bread or tortilla (P and CC)
  Warm Mini Pizzas on ww sandwich thins or bagels with meat, cheese, and sauce (P and CC)
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (P and CC)
Baked Potato topped with chili and cheese (P and CC)
Leftover Pasta (heat at home and place in a thermos) (Meat in sauce=P and CC)    (No meat in sauce=CC)
Leftover Soup (heat at home and place in a thermos)  (Protein and carbs vary with different soups)
Pizza Wrap (meat, cheese, sauce) on a ww tortilla (P and CC)
Kabobs (place meat and veggies on a skewer) (served hot or cold) (P and CC)
  Sides   Cold Celery and peanut butter (P and CC)
Apples and Flutterbutter for dipping (P and CC)
Fruit and Yogurt Dip (P and CC)
Applesauce, no sugar added (CC)
Fresh fruit or fruit salad (CC)
Fresh veggies- plain or serve with ranch, honey mustard, or hummus (CC)
Pretzels (CC)
Muffins or Sweet Bread (such as banana or zucchini) (CC)
Trail Mix (Nuts, Dried Fruit, Whole Grain Cereal, Pretzels, Seeds, etc.) (with nuts=P and CC)
Yogurt (P)
Cheese stick (P)

 

 

 What are your favorite healthy lunch ideas?

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Healthy Breakfast Menu Ideas

breakfast photo

Last week, I shared my Healthy Eating Chart with you.  At first glance, you might think that we don’t eat very much variety.  But, let me assure you, we eat well!  So, for the next few posts, I will share our menu ideas….using only the items on my Healthy Eating Chart.

Now, I must admit, that I have a huge stack of amazing breakfast recipes that are packed with white sugar and white flour.  I am not saying that I NEVER make those recipes.   Cinnamon rolls (the most unhealthy kind imaginable) will always have a place on my holiday table.  They are terrible for us, but we serve them alongside lots of other healthy foods to balance out the sugar overload.  It is all about balance.   While my cinnamon rolls hold a special place in my heart, I can’t have them everyday….or they will hold a special place in my thighs…and rear…and everywhere else! 

Also, for your sake, I have tried (and like) every idea on this list.  But, sometimes I will adapt the recipe.  Okay, really…..I almost always change the recipe somehow!  I will replace an item I don’t have with another similar item.  I will omit the white flour and put in wheat flour.  I will decide that it needs more protein, so I will substitute Greek yogurt for regular yogurt.  It is who I am…..always changing!  So, if you try a recipe and don’t like it, then I probably changed it a little.  Just note that you might have to tweak the recipes a little to get them to your taste! 

I wanted to mention that I am going to give you links to any recipes that I have found online.  But, some of them are from my cookbooks.  I don’t feel right posting those recipes since that would violate copyright laws. So, here are the cookbooks that I use most frequently:

 

  A few more things to note:

  • These foods can be eaten at anytime during the day.  Many times I will have a smoothie for lunch because it is quick!  Also, my family loves to have “breakfast for dinner.”  So, these foods can be eaten at anytime.  But, typically they are breakfast foods, so that is the list where I will place them. 
  • When looking at my breakfast ideas, please remember that a healthy diet will pair a lean protein with a complex carbohydrate…..then top it off with a healthy fat.  Don’t just eat a bowl of oatmeal or you can expect a crash within a couple of hours.  Instead, group oatmeal (a carb) with a side of eggs (protein.)  Throw a little natural peanut butter or nuts (a healthy fat) into your oatmeal and you will have a well-balanced meal.  For more info on how to balance proteins, carbs, and healthy fats, check out this book:

 

 

 So, here are my ideas for breakfast.  Where applicable, I have listed a link to the recipe I use or to something similar to my recipe.   You may view the list online or you can download it here:  Healthy Foods for Breakfast

When planning your breakfast, choose:

  • about 20 grams of a lean protein (P)
  • about 40 grams of a complex carbohydrate (CC)
  • a healthy fat (HF)-amount varies

 

Breakfast Ideas

 

 

 Eggs

Scrambled (P)
Hard-boiled (P)
Omelet, whole eggs or egg whites……..add  veggies, cheese, and onions  (P and CC)
Egg McMuffin (on a whole wheat English Muffin) (P and CC)
Breakfast Burrito (with a whole wheat tortilla) (P and CC)
Quiche (made with whole wheat flour) (P and CC)    

 

Yogurt

Greek yogurt, plain or flavored (P)….top with fruit or granola & sweeten with agave or honey (CC)
Regular yogurt, plain or flavored (P)….top with fruit or granola &  sweeten with agave or honey (CC)
Yogurt Parfait (fruit, flavored yogurt, cottage cheese, and nuts) (P, CC, and HF)
Yogurt Parfait (fruit, flavored yogurt, plain Greek yogurt, and nuts) (P, CC, and HF)    

 

Smoothies

Berry Smoothies (P and CC)
Peanut Butter and Banana smoothies (P and CC)
Overnight Smoothies (P and CC)
Oatmeal Smoothies (P and CC)    

 

Oats

Steel Cut Oats (made with milk and sweetened with agave nectar and berries) (CC)
Rolled Oats (made with milk and sweetened with agave nectar) (Kids mix in nut butter.) (CC)
Overnight Refrigerated Oatmeal (P and CC)
Oatmeal flavored with honey, canned pumpkin, peanut butter, and cinnamon (P and CC)    

 

Waffles, Pancakes, and Crepes

High Protein, Whole Wheat Waffles & 100% Maple Syrup (P and CC)
High Protein, Whole Wheat Crepes & 100% Maple Syrup (P and CC) (waffle recipe made into crepes)
Yogurt-filled Crepes (P and CC) (waffle recipe made into crepes, fill with yogurt and fruit)
Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes  & 100% Maple Syrup (CC)
Whole Wheat Waffle Sandwich (with cream cheese and cinnamon in the middle) (P and CC)   

 

Breads and Muffins

Whole Wheat Bagels (CC) (with cream cheese, peanut butter, or all-fruit jelly)
French Toast & 100% Maple Syrup (made with whole wheat bread) (CC)
Whole Wheat Toast (with peanut butter or all-fruit jelly) ( CC)
Zucchini Muffins (CC) (made with whole wheat flour)
Pumpkin Muffins (CC) (made with whole wheat flour )
Banana Muffins (CC) (made with whole wheat flour )    

Fruit

Frozen:   blueberries, strawberries,  peaches, pineapple, 3- berry blend, & tropical fruit blend (CC)
Fresh:  bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, cuties, and whatever else is on sale or in season (CC)
Applesauce, natural, no sugar added (CC)    

 

Vegetables

Hash Browns or Fried Potatoes (CC)
Sweet Potato Pancakes (CC)
Chopped fresh veggies in eggs (onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.) (CC)
Hidden veggies:  canned pumpkin in oatmeal or muffins, fresh spinach or kale in smoothies, shredded carrots or zucchini in muffins (CC)    

Cereal

Cheerios, Granola, or Grape Nuts (CC)    

 

Healthy Fat

Natural nut butters:  peanut or  almond  (with toast, waffles, smoothies, or oatmeal) (HF)
Nuts:  pecans, walnuts, and almonds  (with muffins, parfaits, or oatmeal) (HF)
Chia seeds (with yogurt or smoothies) (HF)
Oil (olive or coconut) and butter: ( in baked goods or when cooking eggs or pancakes) (HF)
Cheese:   mozzarella, feta, parmesan, and cheddar  (with eggs) (HF)
Meats:  turkey/pork bacon, turkey/pork sausage, lean ham (with eggs or as a side) (HF)

 

 

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Healthy Eating for Moms

Healthy Eating for Moms-I hesitated to write this post.  Being that my site is all about teaching boys, I was struggling with whether the topic related to my niche.  But, here was my thought, “Well, when I feel good, I am a better teacher, mom, wife, daughter, and friend.  When I feel bad, I stink at all of the above.”  So, there you have it.  How does my healthy eating relate to teaching my boys?   When I eat healthy, I feel good.  When I feel good,  I am better equipped for everything-including teaching my boys.

A couple years ago, I was listening to a Christian radio station. The announcer was interviewing Christine Avanti, an LA nutritionist.  The challenge?  The radio listeners were sending in their favorite unhealthy recipes and Christine was adapting the recipe to make it healthier.  After the program, she promoted her book, “Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads.”  I remember thinking, “I know!  I can’t live on salad!”   Promptly, I requested her book at the library.  Within a few weeks, my own copy arrived from Amazon.  I was hooked.  Later, I ordered her second book, “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food.”  Two years later, I can still say that I mostly follow her plan. ….a combination of the ideas in the two books.  It is the only “healthy eating plan” that isn’t a diet…..it is just a healthy lifestyle-defined.  Yet, while it isn’t a diet, I always lose weight when I stick to it…..because it is healthy! 

 

 

Well….the premise of her plan is this:

1.  Every meal should have a balance of a lean protein, a complex carbohydrate, and a healthy fat.

2.  Eat a meal every four hours, without snacking in between.

3.  Eat real food.  Skip all of the processed foods…the low-fat meals, the 100 calorie snacks, the fake sweeteners, and the  diet drinks.  Fresh is better than canned.   Whole wheat trumps white.   Can you read the ingredients on the label?  If not, skip it.  For the “real-food” rules, look at this list on the blog, “100 Days of Real Food.”   I can’t say that I follow every rule on this list, but we are trying to move in the right direction.  (For example, we don’t do organic…..not out of lack of conviction, but out of lack of money.) 

 So, friends….this has been my summer project!  I am getting my eating back on track! 

When I follow her plan, I:

1.  Lose weight

2.  Have balanced hormones-my mood swings disappear

3.  Have decreased headaches-I struggle with migraines.  But when I follow her plan, my headaches are diminished….except around that time of the month-nothing seems to help with those! 

So, you ask, what do I eat?  I made a chart.  

(I just love charts….they make my Type A personality sing…..) 

 Food chart photo 2

 

If you would like to download my chart, here is your free copy:  Healthy Eating Food Chart

Note:  When I say that this is “Healthy Eating for Moms,”  please remember that my kids eat this way, also!  But, I try to stick to the yellow categories when I am wanting to lose weight.  My kids eat from all the categories….all the time!  My hubby?  Well….I am not his mom, friends.  He eats REALLY healthy when he is at home, but he lives on fast-food and convenience store hotdogs when he is working.  At least, he gets good stuff when he comes home! 

Another sidenote:  There are more foods that you CAN eat than the ones listed on my chart.  I listed the ones that my family eats.   They won’t eat tofu, so I didn’t put it on the chart.  But, according to the book, it is acceptable.  Same goes for many vegetables.  We are trying to become more brave.  But, as of right now, the only veggies we eat are the ones listed above.  But, there are MANY, MANY more veggies that are in the “Free Fooods” column.  For a more complete list, check out the list  in the back of the book, Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads: Stop Starving, Start Eating…And Losing!
  

Stay tuned for a list of our favorite meals and snacks using the items listed on my food chart! 

 

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